Green dream

It was a glorious, hot summers day and the lovely people at Forest Holidays had invited us to attend a reading by award winning children’s author Sita Bramanchi and visit the NEW Sherwood Forest holiday cabins. Despite living only 45 minutes away from Sherwood Forest we’ve only ventured up there once since moving to the UK so I was really excited to go and have a look around. The Forest Holidays site is a beautiful holiday park set in 3300 acres of Sherwood forest. The wood cabins are nestled thoughtfully in and among the lush, green forest. You’ll even find trees growing right through the decking because they are just too spectacular to cut down. You really do feel in the thick of it. Sure there are more cabins, 65 in total, so it is not like you are totally on your own in the wild but each home has enough space around it and the dense forest muffles and hides the sounds and sites of other visitors there.

After a lovely introduction lunch in the main reception building (which is also home to great farm style shop stocking local produce, a gorgeous open hearth and several seating areas) it was time for us to tour the site. I have to say with only faded memories of holiday parks I was very pleasantly surprised at the modern, simple, natural elements. The site really revolved around the houses and the woodland.

From a styling point of view I thought the cabins were quite stunning from both the outside and inside. The look and feel was contemporary, robust and natural.  They had been well designed and felt rather luxurious not like your standard holiday park. Solid wood furniture, neutral, natural colours, a living room complete with wood burner and several giant window walls where you can take in the most glorious view of the forest at all times of day and night. The main bedroom also featured a window wall which I could just imagine would be incredible when you awaken after a refreshing nights sleep.

Out on the terrace the cabin had its own bird feeder/ nut table to attract the wildlife, birds and squirrels scampering around the forest, which is great for children and adults alike! Each house also comes with it’s own hot tub where you could sit on an evening and absorb the beautiful surroundings perhaps with a glass of champagne. Am I getting ahead of myself here? ;)

Once in Sherwood Forest there are a host of sporty, outdoorsy activities you can be involved in if you desire. There are wonderful woodland walks, miles of fantastic bike trails (my husband has been here and said it is top, top biking!), playgrounds galore and a tree top adventure place all within walking distance. I ventured (along with Jen from LoveChicLiving and her family) to the nearby (10 minute walk) mushroom village, a large play area for children, both littlies like Littlelish and older children like Jen’s. Here you will also find the tree top adventure place and bike hire.

Primarily I’d suggest a visit to the Forest Holidays site in Sherwood Forest to spend time with your loved ones because I think just getting away from it all, being surrounded by nature is the most special part. There is actually a chance to just relax and enjoy each others company without having to do anything. I think it would be great for families, for a romantic weekend for lovers or for friends meeting up for a girly weekend of chatting, movies, in cabin spa treatments and hot tubbing! One of the ladies I spoke to said she rented a cabin in the middle of the winter, around Christmas time with her family and it was totally magical being in the woodlands with snow all around! I was sold!

After our tour we returned to the reception where Forest Holidays had arranged for Waterstone’s 2011 Children’s Book prize winner Sita Brahmachari, who was staying at the site as author in residence, to read from her best selling childrens books Jasmine Skies and Artichoke Hearts. Although these stories are actually aimed at 11+, Littlelish listened well as Sita told her imaginative stories about a young Indian girl growing up. I have to say I rather enjoyed this part myself, the imagery was vivid and the Sita’s storytelling was captivating.

All in all it was a day to remember, for the glorious sunshine, the shady woodland glades, beautiful cabin properties and friendly staff at Forest Holidays. Thank you and hopefully see you again soon!

Disclosure: I was invited to tour the Forest Holiday properties with fellow East Midland bloggers, Jen from LoveChicLiving, Ruth from Minibreakmummy, Penny from The Aresidence and Rosie from RosieScribble – lovely to see you ladies! No payment was received for this post and all opinions and words are honest and very much my own.

 

Sunday night we arrived home with a rosy, happy and somewhat grubby glow. We’d spent the weekend at the amazing Wilderness Festival in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire – A celebration of the arts and outdoors in the wilds of England… and my goodness do they know how to celebrate! I can only describe it as a heady mix of creativity, inspiration and beautiful, happy people set against the most gorgeous backdrop in picturesque middle England.

Friday we received bad news, which by Saturday, had had time to settle in comfortably in our headspace. Hmmm. We discussed the ‘situation’ on the way in the car but on arrival at Cornbury Park were silenced by the breath taking views. We glanced over at each other and excitement took over from tension – we knew we were in for a treat! This weekend we could leave the real world behind us and enter into a magical playground! Hooray!

We collected our tickets from the box offices and made our way hurriedly through the fields dotted with tents already pitched. I’ve never been so eager to pitch a tent in my life but we could not wait to get into the thick of the festival. We could hear the music playing and the streams of people walking into the festival were enticing us to follow…

Wilderness Festival is set out over the land of Cornbury Park Estate, an absolutely breathtaking location complete with rolling hills, woodland, lakes and rivers. What first hit me was the flags, I’m a sucker for anything colourful and all along the festival terrain were lines of gorgeous brightly coloured flags waving in the breeze as if saluting the sun in the sky. The festival was well laid out with various different areas which made it easy to work your way around.

In the centre of the festival was the food section offering fantastic delights from Tapas at Moro to Wild Game burgers from The Wild Game Co. Good food featured heavily at Wilderness and there really was something for everyone. With a 3 year old to please we only sampled the delights of pancakes and oven baked pizza but both were exceptional! The main section was also staggered with tents offering inspirational talks and theatre as well as various stalls selling everything from festival clothing, including furry tails with Littlelish was desperate for, to bubbles! The bubble shop (bubbleinc) was of course one of Littlelish’s favourite destinations over the 2 days as she loved watching the giant bubbles being created from the net – I am determined to make one of these one day, check out my video below!

 

As well as the main stage area where the likes of Rodriguez y Gabriela, The Temper Trap, Jake Bugg performed there were also several smaller stages like the Friends of the Earth stage and The Folk Guild stage which had some awesome artists performing on. One of my favourite songs was the one that accompanies the video above. Listening to them perform and watching the bubbles took me to another, very happy place! I totally missed who this actually was performing though if you have any idea please let me know I’d be very grateful! Although normally a festival minus Littlelish would have been very much about the music this time it was all about keeping her entertained. Luckily there was plenty to do for little ones as they had not one but two fantastic kids areas as well as entertainment for them throughout the terrain.

The kids sections offered a host of activities, make your own festival hat, tutu, fairy house, jewellery. You name it they were making it, creativity was the order of the day! There was also opportunities to leave your children doing activities with a babysitting service freeing you up to go and do something grown up for a while. Being big kids at heart both Daddylish and I rather enjoyed staying to watch the children’s entertainment in particular The flying Seagull – they were fantastic! Funny, talented and with big hearts they spend their lives touring around the world (Romania, Cambodia and India) offering inspirational comedy, fun and laughter to disadvantaged children and communities. Check out my video below to hear me chuckling ;)

 

 

As well as the children’s section the festival boasted several other areas leading off the central food area.

The Sanctuary – A serene peace and almost muffled silence hung over the sanctuary where they offered healing, yoga, reiki and massage all centered around the chill out area. We took a stroll through this area and felt immediately at peace, I could have stayed much much longer but Littlelish had other plans.

Green Crafts –  Where you could try your hand at pottery, wood turning and stone masonry and artisans gave people the chance to learn their trade which I thought was fantastic.

The Vintage festival – An amazing extra festival joined onto Wilderness festival which featured Vintage singers, dance shows, a roller disco, crafts and vintage clothes shopping galore. There was even a vintage hairsalon to get you looking the part! Littlelish was mezmorised by Elle and The Pocketbelles and could be found reenacting their show by the tent later in the evening before bedtime.

The Riverside / Spa – For those wishing to pamper themselves there was a wonderful spa area down by the river and boating lake. We chose to test the water with a spot of wild swimming which was invigorating on a sticky, Sunday afternoon. It was positively magical down there, again a world away from the festival and people gathered here to soak in the beautiful surroundings including a waterfall. On Saturday night there had been a secret swimming event where they tried to break the record for the world biggest group skinny dip – not sure if they succeeded.

There was so much to see and do that I felt like I often wanted to be in two, three or four places at the same time especially when we were cosied up in our tent at 10pm on Saturday night and I knew that  there were all kinds of amazing artists, performances, clubs  and parties going on. That is the only downside to bringing children to a festival with you and something us mummy and daddy’s just have to accept as a fact of life :) However we had had such full days, doing and seeing so much that we didn’t feel too hard done by.

The campsite was well set up with a special area for families away from the main noisy festival route. This meant we actually got a decent night sleep (apart from Daddylish who had the leaky airbed!) and could enjoy a full day on Sunday without feeling too tired and groggy. In the end we had to drag ourselves away from the fun as we had a 2 hour drive home and needed to be up for work on Monday.

We arrived home totally buzzing. Littlelish had tales to tell of riding a camel, practicing circus tricks and wild swimming and I was just totally recharged with inspiration and good feelings. Being around so much creativity and so many happy, smiling folk was beautiful. There was a really laid back, chilled, joyful vibe about the festival and everyone who was there was very kind and thoughtful. People watched each other’s children, offered to decorate each others faces with their jewels and welcomed the talent of the artists and performers at the festival. The natural setting and space to explore only enhanced this feeling. And so we returned to our daily lives safe in the knowledge that although the day to day might sometimes be hard, this life and planet truly is worth celebrating!

 

We’ve spent the entire week outside in this glorious sunshine and I’ve been reminded just what a joy it is to be able to play outside with Littlelish. I’m sure I am not alone when I say that my little one doesn’t need much to entertain her when she is out in the garden, give her some water, a tea set and a play tent and she is sweet for hours. Recently I was introduced to the fabulous Win Green. If you haven’t heard of Win Green I definitely recommend you take a look at their website where you will find beautifully, lovingly handmade playhouses and accessories for children.

“At Win Green, we believe that children should be encouraged from an early age to explore their own imaginations through play, allowing them to use their own creativity to develop their playing and learning skills”. Our enchanting collection of hand woven cottages and tents, floor quilts, beanbags and accessories capture the traditional charm that we have endeavoured to create.  Their ‘old fashioned’ appearance sparks childhood memories in parents wishing to recreate the innocence of their youth for their own children.  The bright colours and beautiful detail instantly captures the imagination of children alike – looking to explore!”

What a great philosophy. I love that they understand that many people (including us!) are looking to move away from mass produced plastic toys and bring back the qualities of the old fashioned toy, where detail is the key ingredient. All their products are designed in the UK and manufactured in India, using traditional Indian weaving and dying skills. Each design is embroidered and appliquéd by hand and takes 15 sewing hours to complete, wow!! There is a great section on their website about how they have changed the lives of their female workers in rural India empowering them to gain financial freedom and be able support their families. Fantastic!

Win Green have generously offered us a beautiful fairy house for Littlelish’s fairy party in a few weeks time which will just be the icing on the cake! Thank you Win Green. It is a surprise for her and I cannot wait to see the look on her face. I thought I would give you a sneaky peek…

Isn’t it just adorable? The picture perfect cottage for a sweet little girl.  I absolutely love the old fashioned charm of this house. If I think back to my childhood, my greatest memories are spent in the garden, more often than not in and out of play tents and wendy houses. I remember the magical feeling of creating your own shady space, too small for any adult to get into, your own private little place to play in peace. As Win Green so rightly captured in their philosophy I cannot wait to recreate this with Littlelish…

I also have a treat to share with you my lovely readers as Win Green have also offered a beautiful fairy floor quilt to one lucky reader. The Fairy Floor Quilt is also 100% cotton, beautifully appliquéd and embroidered. It is lightly padded and makes a great rug or play mat.

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden…?  At Lish Concepts and Win Green we do!!

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